As I was scanning through the scriptural neighborhood I stopped in the neighborhood of Acts 3 and looked at the scenes that were there and I quickly moved to chapter 4 because I said that I have preached this text before, as I was turning God said no go back because I want to show you something that you missed this time, I want you to go back to chapter two.
My brothers and sisters, after reading this portion of scripture, I really don’t know how much time had lapse between the events of Acts chapter two and the occurrences of Acts chapter three. I don’t know how wide was the time gap was between the closing events of Acts chapter two and opening events of Acts chapter three.
I do know that in Acts chapter two, the Holy Ghost had fallen upon the church. In Acts chapter two, the Day of Pentecost was fully come. In Acts chapter two, the Disciples and others from across the earth were gathered together when all of a sudden there came into the building a mighty rushing wind. In Acts chapter two, there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire that fell upon each one of them. In Acts chapter two, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. In Acts chapter two, they became loud in their spiritual response. In Acts chapter two, they were falsely accused, falsely evaluated and looked upon, saying, “These men must be drunk with new wine.
But also, in Acts chapter two, there was one who had faded into the background. There was one who had denied knowing and being with Jesus, and now he is filled with the Holy Ghost and he is speaking out boldly in Acts chapter two. In fact He preaches a sermon and in his sermon he is telling them that these men are not drunk as you suppose. He goes on to preach about The Prophesy of the Old Testament by saying that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.
In Acts chapter two, after that sermon was preached, some three thousand souls were added to the church. Yes all of this happens in Acts chapter two. In Acts chapter two the multitude is gather together rejoicing, shouting and praising God. But now in chapter three, the excitement has died down.
In Acts chapter three, the crowd has dwindled away. In Acts chapter two, a large crowd was present. Three thousand converts was there for the cause of Christ. But now in Acts chapter three, we just see two men walking together, by the name of Peter and John, and I think I ought to tell you that there are some people that are in the crowd who are only there only for the excitement. Some people are in the crowd are only there because it is different.They are there just too be inquisitive. But can I tell you something, and that is, everybody that’s in the crowd will last. Because there are some that will run at the sign of any trouble, there are some that will give up and give in, in the time of animosity.
In Acts chapter three, there are only two men. Look at what a change that has now taken place by way of the market place.
You must understand that Peter and John really didn’t have a great friendship with each other in Acts chapter two. But now we see Peter and John are walking together. Before the events of Acts chapter two, both of them seemed to irritate each other. They were so different in their personalities that one seems to get on the nerves of the other. Some of you can relate to people getting on your nerves.
You see, Peter was a protester, but John believed in a peaceful means of working out ones problems. Peter believed that violence was the answer to any problem, but John believed that talking it out was the best way.
So they both irritated each, but that was before the Holy Ghost fell. And now after the Holy Ghost fell in Acts chapter two, by the time we get to Acts chapter three, they are walking together.
And that’s my first point: I’ve got to tell you all that the Holy Ghost has a way of putting us together. The Holy Ghost knows how to make us be as one. Whereas, Peter and John where working separately they are now working together as a team, and I think I ought to tell you that church work, is not a one man job. Church work is team work. What you we must understand is, that you’re not the whole show. Church work is team work. I can’t do it all and you can’t do it all, team work makes the dreams work, because all of us are working together for the cause of Christ.
And let me serve notice on you. If you’ve been filled with the Holy Ghost and I use the preposition “if”. If you’ve been filled with the Holy Ghost, you will work together. If you are filled, you will love one another; if you have been filled we will pray for one another and bless one another.
They were once walking separately; they were once divided, but now look at them now, shoulder to shoulder. Look at them now, walking side by side and that’s what the Holy Ghost will do.
So, now they are in the market place, and they had to get to the temple because it was now the hour of prayer. But in route to the temple, before they could get to the temple, they had to go through by way of the market place. I think that we need to stop here and look at the market place.
First of all, I need to tell you what the market place is all about. There were merchants in the market place. There were salesmen in the market place. There were peddlers selling their wares in the market place. Also, there were also thieves in the market place. There were women of the evening strolling in the market place, and Peter and John were on their way to the temple, but they had to journey through the market place. But can I tell you something before we leave the market place? I need to tell somebody that you can also find souls to save in the market place, so, please don’t take the market place for granted. Some of us turn up our noses while we are going through the market place. Talking about I’m Evangelist this, and I’m Pastor that. I’m Missionary So and So. And we turn our nose up and don’t want to brush up against anybody in the market place. We don’t want to talk to anybody while we are in the market place. But my brothers and sisters, there is a job for the church in the market place. The church’s job is not between the four walls. Our mission is out there in the market place. Are you all going to help me here? If you got so much religion, you ought to be to talk to someone, witnessing to somebody, testifying to somebody, not just in the church, but in the market place.
Notice here that they were journeying through the market place. They weren’t there to stay, but they were going through. They wasn’t there to take part in what was going on, their destination was the church, but they had to go through the market place. So many times we pass the mission of the church on our way to church. Yes we do church work, but not the work of the church. Walking with our choir robes on our arms, we pass people who need to hear a good song in the market place. Sometimes with our Sunday school books and Bibles under our arms, we pass those who need to hear a Bible lesson in the market place. We want to preach and teach to each other. We want to fellowship with people who already know Christ and by-pass our mission which is in the market place.
Peter and John after the Holy Ghost had fallen can now be seen making their way through the market place on their way to the temple. And on their way into the temple, they pass the gate of the temple which was called Beautiful. And there at the gate was a wretch of a man, who was sitting at the gate. The Bible tells us that while Peter and John were going into the temple, the man that sat there, no doubt was working with it, with a cup in his hand asking for money. He was asking for alms of those who went into the temple.
Now Peter and John had come at the ninth hour on their way to the temple and they found this man sitting at the side of the gate, what a tragic thing it was. Look at him with his cup rattling asking for a hand out because he was lame and couldn’t walk. The record is he was lame from his mother’s womb. He was forced to be abandoned and to live on hand outs of those who entered in to the temple. I think I ought to tell you that it’s sad, not that this man was cripple. It’s not the fact that he’s lame, but what’s sad is the fact how he is, so where he is? Look at him. Bro. Preacher where is he? He’s at the temple. Not in the temple. Maybe y’all are not reading this. He was not in the temple, he was at the temple. That was the worst part of his problem. It was not how he was, but where he was. He was at the temple but not in the temple. He was brought there, daily and laid daily at the gate.
Surely, the people who laid him at the temple, it would have been just as easy to put him on the front pew in the temple. But he’s not in, but at. That seems to represent so many modern day church folk who are always at church, but never in church.
Some of you this morning are at worship, but not in worship. That’s why some people miss the worship experience and act so dead, because they are not in morning worship, but they are always at church, but never in church.
Never in church in terms of interest. Never in, in terms of caring. Never in, in being a part of what’s going on inside the church. Sitting on pews, but never in the worship. Dressed to kill, but never in the worship service. Put good money in the church, but never concern about the church.
I need to tell you, how you can tell when you are at church and not in church. When you can leave church the same old way that you came, you were only at church. When you can leave church doing the same old thing, acting the same old way, going to the same old places, you were at church and not in church. When you leave church and never get any stronger then when you came to church, and you never feel the Holy Spirit, nothing never moves you, nothing never gets next to you, nothing never stirs you up, you keep that same old prim and proper look, you are at church and not in church. When your habits never change, when your ways never get any better, when your lifestyle never gets any better you are at church.
The tragedy of this man was not how he was, but where he was. He was at church when he ought to have been in church.
Now Peter and John walked up to him on their way in to the temple. And the Bible says that the man lifted up his cup and asked them for a donation. You know the story. Peter and John looked upon him. And the Bible said that Peter fastened his eyes upon him and said unto him, Look on us. They told the lame man to look on us.
And the Bible said that they said to the man, the man who was lame looked to them expecting to receive some money from them.
*As Peter and John addressed him and said in essence, I know what you are expecting. I know what you’ve been looking for. Down through the years, people have been dropping silver and gold in your cup, but yet your condition is still the same. Down through the years, people have been dropping money in your cup, but your actions are still in the same old situation. So, silver and gold haven’t done do you much good. You’re still lame and you’re still unable to move yourself from one place to the other, but yet you keep on asking for something that has not done you any good. You are doing the same thing, and expecting different results. So they said, in essence to him, we know what you’ve been asking for, but we want to tell you, that silver and gold have we none.
But we want to offer you someone who can make a difference in your life. And the Bibles said that they extended their right hand to the lame man and they lifted him up. And you know that is the job of every child of God and that is to lift somebody up. They stretched out their right hand and that lame man took hold to their hand. And the Bible said that straight way strength came in the ankle bone.
He stood up on his own two feet. Now that’s what God does. He’s able to stand you up on your two feet.
So can I tell you something? There is a danger in being at church but not in church, because when you are at church and not in church, you miss the benefits that God has for you.
The bible said that this man went in the church leaping and praising God, and someone ask the question, is not this he that sat at the gate begging? All I’m trying to say is that God has a way of changing your life right in front of others.